Dorset Community Energy is a not-for-profit Community Benefit Society whose aims include financial and educational benefits to schools.
We have developed educational resources to support the schools with with solar panel installations financed by Dorset Community Energy.
We are currently seeking funding to enable us to roll out these resources to all schools in Dorset.
Solar energy experiments handbook for primary schools
Schools can borrow a box of solar experiments including solar panels and small motors and an associated resource guide. The experiments and guide have been developed by Alison Jay, the Dorset County Council Sustainable Schools Project Officer and a small group of Dorset Community Energy volunteers.
Simple experiments such as decorating a paper plate and mounting it on a small solar-powered motor have been a great success with younger pupils. Children are fascinated by the way the spinning colours change as the solar panel is tilted at different angles to the sun. We also supply a multimeter so the children can see the voltage change as the decorated paper plate spins slower and faster.
Monitoring the solar electricity generated
Dorset Community Energy has been piloting state-of-the-art monitoring systems to enable pupils and school staff to view the daily solar energy generation online from any computer in the school and via a wall -mounted display screen in the school foyer.
Where technically possible we have also installed energy metering to show grid electricity consumption and solar PV generation on the same screen. For example, the graph on the right shows daily grid consumption in red, solar PV generation in green and exported solar in yellow. We are delighted that the monitoring shows some schools are carbon neutral in electricity on sunny days and are using most of the solar generation within the school.
Co-operation in educational activities with other community energy groups
Instead of ‘re-inventing the wheel’ and working in isolation, sustainable energy education is an ideal activity for collaboration with other community energy groups. Dorset Community Energy facilitated a solar energy education workshop at a recent Community Energy Spring Gathering held at Dartington Hall near Totnes, Devon. Following the event a dropbox folder has been set up by the organisers Regen, to allow community energy groups to share educational resources .